As its entrance into the Canadian retail landscape is finally near, Target will be releasing its first Canadian TV ad campaign during the Oscars this Sunday, the beginning of a marketing push to establish the brand here. What can Canada expect from Target’s advertising in the coming months and years? Here is a look at the elements of its marketing legacy so far.
In the late ‘90s, while discount designers Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Kmart Corp. battled over who had the lowest prices, Target Corp. opted to differentiate itself based on personality instead. Minneapolis-based Peterson Milla Hooks Advertising created the "Sign of the Times" campaign, building the Bull's-eye logo into models’ clothing, pillows, and even a pretty dessert tray. The work PMH did was designed to make Target look less like a discount store and to emphasize the chic side of its cheap-chic identity.
Even though Target had no stores in the tri-state area in the early 2000s, it also began advertising in New York, understanding that was where the taste-makers lived. That higher brand presence, and its new stylish design aesthetic, opened the door to the kind of celebrity partnerships on proprietary product lines that Target has become known for -- at first with designers such as Isaac Mizrahi and Michael Graves. Design democracy has become a core principle of all of Target’s branding -- and so did the concept of attracting customers to the store’s identity and image and letting product sales follow.
A bit of cheek
Target has also become known for exhibiting a slightly cheeky personality as well. For example, with its former agency Wieden + Kennedy, Target created a series of Christmas commercials starring comedian Maria Bamford as an off-kilter shopper so kooked out over the holidays that she would get along well with the fictional Target cashier played by Kristen Wiig on Saturday Night Live.
This year, Target has spoofed conventions of fashion advertising with a series of spots by MDC agency Mono, featurings models in all-white posing in slow motion with grocery products. Each of the spots concludes with “The Everyday collection, by Target,” whispered in the style of designer fragrance voice-overs.
Blast from the past
Target’s lead creative agency in Canada is kbs+p – part of the MDC Partners Inc. network the retailer is working with here. The company actually had a relationship with Kirshenbaum Bond in the U.S. in the ‘90s, yielding a series of ads that showed regular household items as though they were high-fashion pieces. Like the TV ads this year by Mono, they took conventions from another category to elevate the stores’ discount products.